MMA letter to conference committee urges quick action on Ch. 90, calls for multi-year bill

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The Honorable William Straus, House Chair
The Honorable Thomas McGee, Senate Chair
The Honorable Brian Dempsey
The Honorable John Keenan
The Honorable Steven Howitt
The Honorable Donald Humason
Conference Committee on the Chapter 90 Legislation (S. 2047 & H. 2783)
State House, Boston
Dear Chairman Strauss, Chairman McGee and Conference Committee Members,
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to offer input on the important issue of Chapter 90. We appreciate your attention to this essential program that helps our cities and towns maintain 30,000 miles of local roads and bridges. As you know, it is the long-standing policy of the MMA to support a multi-year, $300-million-a-year approach to Chapter 90 because it would allow cities and towns to plan more effectively. We respectfully urge the Conference Committee to report out a Chapter 90 bill as quickly as possible, so that the measure can be signed into law and cities and towns can begin the construction season.
The MMA believes that a multi-year Chapter 90 authorization is important to allow cities and towns to plan effectively at the local level. When Chapter 90 authorizations are enacted on a year-to-year basis, there is less certainty and predictability regarding the amount and the timing of the funds. This makes it more difficult for communities to plan multi-year projects or know how many years it will take to implement their comprehensive pavement management plans. Pavement management plans help cities and towns determine the most efficient way to use their Chapter 90 funds. To protect against the loss of purchasing power, we request that multi-year authorizations be indexed to account for inflation.
A multi-year Chapter 90 program would also mean that communities could receive their Chapter 90 authorizations earlier in the season. Having on-time authorizations is essential, because when cities and towns are forced to bid, award and start work on projects in a significantly shortened construction season, bid responses tend to be the most expensive, making repair work much more costly for local taxpayers.
As you know, our primary focus has been returning the Chapter 90 authorization to $300 million a year, in recognition of the huge gap between current resources and the actual amount needed to bring our roads into a state of good repair. Thus, if a multi-year approach advances, it is important to convey that municipalities would also be requesting a supplemental bond authorization next year to bring the total amount up to the $300 million target.
We look forward to continuing working with you and your colleagues in the Legislature on the vital connection between infrastructure investment and economic growth and security across the state.
We deeply appreciate your demonstrated commitment and support for our cities and towns, and for your leadership in advancing the transportation needs of Massachusetts. Thank you very much.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO